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MTP 2018 Rundown Blog: Latest news, analysis and data driving the midterms

Smart political reporting and analysis for the 2018 midterm elections, including data points, interesting national trends, short updates and more from the NBC News political unit.

The Rundown

Mark Murray

Here are the top midterm ad markets and most expensive races

Here are the Top 10 markets — in terms of total TV and radio advertising — in the 2017-2018 midterm season, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics. The numbers are through July 9.

  1. Chicago: $50.3 million
  2. Los Angeles: $32.3 million
  3. Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne, FL: $19.9 million
  4. Tampa/St. Pete/Sarasota, FL: $18.0 million
  5. Pittsburgh, PA: $16.6 million
  6. San Diego, CA: $13.4 million
  7. Las Vegas, NV: $12.9 million
  8. St. Louis, MO: $11.6 million
  9. Satellite: $11.5 million
  10. Denver, CO: $10.8 million

The 10 most expensive Senate races

Meanwhile, here are the most expensive Senate races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. FL SEN: $26.2 million
  2. IN SEN: $21.4 million
  3. WI SEN: $17.1 million
  4. MO SEN: $15.0 million
  5. WV SEN: $12.6 million
  6. MT SEN: $9.2 million
  7. OH SEN: $5.3 million
  8. NV SEN: $5.2 million
  9. AZ SEN: $5.2 million
  10. CA SEN: $4.2 million

The 10 most expensive House races

Here are the most expensive House races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. PA-18 special: $11.9 million
  2. CA-49: $9.0 million
  3. CA-48: $5.0 million
  4. OH-12 special: $4.3 million
  5. TX-2: $4.0 million
  6. CA-39: $3.7 million
  7. MD-6: $3.7 million
  8. PA-1: $2.9 million
  9. NM-1: $2.6 million
  10. AZ-8 special: $2.5 million

The nine most expensive gubernatorial races

Here are the most expensive gubernatorial races in terms of ad spending, per Advertising Analytics. The numbers are for both the primaries and general election.

  1. IL GOV: $76.0 million
  2. FL GOV: $41.8 million
  3. TN GOV: $21.2 million
  4. GA GOV: $16.0 million
  5. MI GOV: $13.7 million
  6. NV GOV: $13.6 million
  7. OH GOV: $12.9 million
  8. PA GOV: $11.0 million
  9. ID GOV: $6.1 million
Carrie Dann

Poll: A record low 47 percent in the U.S. say they're "extremely proud" to be American

Just 47 percent of adults in the U.S. say they are "extremely proud" to be American, the lowest share since polling organization Gallup first started asking that question nearly two decades ago. 

And that's down ten points in just the last five years, from 57 percent in 2013. 

The decline has largely been among Democrats. Only 32 percent of Democrats told pollsters they are "extremely proud" to be American — down from 56 percent in 2013. 

About four-in-ten independents (42 percent) express the highest level of pride in their American identity, down from 50 percent five years ago. 

The opposite trend is true among Republicans. Now, nearly three-quarters of Republicans (74 percent) say they're extremely proud to be Americans, up slightly from 71 percent in 2013.

Dann, Caroline (206104031)

Dem poll: Democratic voters more engaged by issues than opposition to Trump

Democratic voters — especially those who are African-American and millennials — are more motivated by activism on specific issues rather than on generic protests of President Donald Trump, according to polling data from the Democratic group Navigator Research.

Overall, 68 percent of Democrats say they were engaged by the anti-gun-violence March for Our Lives, versus 40 percent of Democrats who said they were engaged by generic anti-Trump protests.

Among African-American Democrats, 69 percent feel engaged with Black Lives Matter, and 59 percent with the debate over the future of health care.  

In the era of Trump, Democrats also are paying more attention to politics: 58 percent of millennial Democrats say they are more tuned in to political issues, compared with 42 percent of non-Democratic millennials who say the same thing.

While 72 percent of Democrats say they feel angry about politics since Trump was elected, 43 percent of Republicans say they are excited. However, both Democrats (76 percent) and Republicans (53 percent) say President Trump’s Twitter usage exhausts them. 

Mark Murray

NBC/Marist polls: Independents break away from Trump, GOP

For all of the attention on polls showing President Trump retaining clear support from Republican voters, there’s maybe a more important set of numbers to watch heading in November’s midterm elections – Trump and the GOP’s standing with independents.

And according to a trio of state polls released by NBC News and Marist College, these independent voters are breaking away from the president and the Republican Party.

In Arizona’s poll — which shows Democrat Kyrsten Sinema ahead of her possible GOP opponents by double digits – Sinema leads Republican Martha McSally by 17 points among independent voters, 49 percent to 32 percent.

In Ohio – where Democrat Sherrod Brown is up 13 points — the Democratic senator enjoys a whopping 21-point lead over Republican Jim Renacci among indies, 51 percent to 30 percent.

And in Florida — where Democrat Bill Nelson is ahead by just 4 points (which is within the poll’s margin of error – the Democrat’s lead over Republican Rick Scott among independents is 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.

And it’s not just the horserace numbers. Trump’s job rating among independent adults is below 40 percent in Arizona (36 percent), Ohio (37 percent) and Florida (39 percent).

Independent voters also prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress in these three states — D+2 in Arizona, D+6 in Ohio and D+8 in Florida.

Additionally, fewer than one-in-three indie adults say Trump deserves re-election — 29 percent in Arizona, 31 percent in Florida and 32 percent in Ohio.

And maybe most significantly of all, independent voters by double-digit margins — 14 points in Florida, 21 points in Arizona and 29 points in Ohio — say their vote in November will be a message to check and balance Trump rather than to pass his agenda.




Carrie Dann

Some SCOTUS numbers to keep in mind

With news of Justice Anthony Kennedy's departure from the Supreme Court, here are a few data points to keep in mind about politics and court appointments. 

Per 2016 exit polls: In 2016, 21% of voters said that appointments to the Supreme Court were the NUMBER ONE factor motivating their presidential vote.  They broke for Trump 56 percent to Clinton’s 41 percent.

And via Pew: Republican views of the Supreme Court have jumped since Trump’s election and since his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to join the court. In March 2018, 71 percent of Republicans reported a positive view of the court, compared with 51 percent in August 2016 and just 33 percent in 2015 after the court’s rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare.

Carrie Dann

How voters in three key swing states view the Mueller probe

President Donald Trump has frequently dismissed the investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “witch hunt,” but polls of three battleground states show that most voters aren’t buying that characterization.

New NBC News/Marist polls of Arizona, Florida and Ohio find that more voters in those states believe special counsel Robert Mueller is running a “fair investigation,” with fewer than four-in-ten agreeing with the president’s language.

In Arizona, 36 percent call the probe a “witch hunt,” while 40 percent of Florida voters and 34 percent of Ohio voters agree.

That’s compared with 52 percent of voters in Arizona, 46 percent in Florida and 50 percent in Ohio who believe the investigation is fair and above board. 

Unsurprisingly, it's primarily Republicans in each state who agree with the president's view of Mueller's work. About two-thirds of Republicans in Arizona (67 percent), Florida (71 percent) and Ohio (67 percent) call the probe a "witch hunt," compared to only seven percent of Arizona Democrats, 14 percent of Florida Dems and eight percent of Ohio Democrats who agree. 

More independents call the probe fair in each state than use the "witch hunt" terminology, too. 

In Arizona, it's 52 percent of independents who see the probe as fair, versus 35 percent who take the president's point of view. In Florida, it's 35 percent to 44 percent and among Ohio independents, it's 29 percent to 51 percent. 

Carrie Dann

Poll: High Dem enthusiasm gives Mikie Sherrill an edge in NJ-11

A new poll from Monmouth University shows Democrat Mikie Sherrill running competitively against Republican Jay Webber in New Jersey's 11th district, with a Democratic enthusiasm gap that could push her ahead. 

The survey shows Sherrill with 40 percent compared with Webber's 38 percent among all potential voters. But under a voter turnout model that anticipates a Democratic surge, she leads 45 percent to 39 percent. 

Sherrill, a former pilot in the Navy, was one of Democrats' top recruits for this affluent and highly educated district, which is currently represented by retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen. Donald Trump only barely won the district in 2016, raising Democratic hopes to turn the area blue. 

The poll shows that Democrats are indeed energized, with 67 percent of self-identified Democrats saying they have a lot of interest in the election, while just 48 percent of Republicans say the same. 

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 22 to 25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. 

Carrie Dann

Brett Favre appears in MS Senate ad

Brett Favre may be best known for his Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers, but he's also famed for his time playing college ball at the University of Southern Mississippi — and he's still an occasional dabbler in politics in his home state.

The former quarterback is appearing in a new television ad — paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — for Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, the appointed senator who replaced Thad Cochran this spring.

"I don't like to talk politics," Favre says in the ad, which is  "But I love Mississippi way too much to stay quiet in this election. It matters a whole lot to the future of our state. That's why I'm backing Cindy Hyde-Smith." 

Hyde-Smith is running to win the seat outright in November, and she faces not only a Democratic opponent but a rival from the right in Chris McDaniel, who's opposed by the Chamber. 

It's not the first time that Favre has weighed in on a high-stakes Senate contest in Mississippi. In 2014, he appeared in a U.S. Chamber ad for Cochran as he fended off a runoff challenge from McDaniel. 

Carrie Dann

Poll: Comstock trails in VA-10

Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock is frequently dubbed the most vulnerable House Republican this cycle, and a new poll bears out just how precarious her position may be. 

The Monmouth University survey of Virginia's 10th congressional district shows Comstock trailing Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton 39 percent to 49 percent among all potential voters. 

Other voter turnout voter models show similar results. A model that anticipates high voter turnout in areas where President Donald Trump is unpopular shows Wexton up 51 percent to 40 percent. 

Trump's unpopularity still looms large for Comstock, though. Over half of voters in the district — 53 percent — disapprove of Trump, and 47 percent strongly disapprove. 

About a third of voters say Comstock has been too supportive of Trump (34 percent), while just 17 percent say she has not been supportive enough. 

Wexton also has a big advantage with white college-educated voters, a voter block that has increasingly turned away from the GOP. Among white college graduates — who are plentiful in this affluent and highly educated distict — Wexton leads 50 percent to 41 percent. 

Jason Kander rules out 2020, runs for Kansas City mayor instead

Jason Kander became one of the first big (well, bigish) names to pull himself off the long list of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates Monday, announcing he will instead run for mayor of his hometown, Kansas City, Missouri.

Kander, an Afghanistan veteran and former Missouri secretary of state, spent 2017 and 2018 crisscrossing the country to campaign for Democrats and speak to local progressive groups, making more visits to the early presidential primary states than perhaps any other potential 2020er.

By late April, his team boasted to NBC News that Kander had visited 39 states to participate in 156 Democratic events, including 10 trips to New Hampshire and 13 to Iowa. The 37-year-old also has a book coming out in August, which draws on his experience in the Army and as one of the first millennials elected to statewide office.

But Kander, who lost a Senate bid in 2016, decided to aim further down the ballot and vie for Kansas City's open mayorship in the off-year 2019 election. “The next mayor has the opportunity to shape the future of Kansas City for generations,” Kander said in a statement. “I’m running because I am up for that challenge.” 

Maryland primary early voting hits new record in advance of Tuesday's contest

When early voting polls in Maryland closed on June 21st, approximately 221,000 ballots had been cast. That is a 56% increase from the 2014 primary early voting numbers.

This primary season, 7 percent of eligible voters in Maryland voted early. 2010 was the first time early voting was allowed in Maryland during a primary and only 2.4 percent of eligible voters took advantage of it.

Of the 2,143,288 eligible Democratic voters, 170,356 opted to vote ahead of election day (7.9 percent) while only 47,736 of the 1,003,153 Republican voters casted their ballot early (4.8 percent) .

Mileah Kromer, Director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, told wtop “We won’t know until Election Day whether this is an increase in new voters or a redistribution of voters — folks who would have voted on Election Day, but then decided to take up the convenience of early voting.” She also cautioned against crediting this surge to increased voter enthusiasm until the polls close tomorrow. 

Texas Dem's viral campaign video closes in on 1.9 million views on Youtube

Texas House Democratic candidate MJ Hegar got quite a bit of attention last week when she released a web video portraying the different stages of her life through a series of opening and closing doors. 

The cleverly-shot three and a half minute video outlines her escape from an abusive household, her career in the Air Force and her efforts to push the Pentagon to change its policy excluding women from ground combat. 

Hegar describes "opening, pushing, and sometimes kicking through every door that was in my way" in the spot, which has been called one of the best of the cycle and has even won praise from "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Hegar is challenging GOP Rep. John Carter, who has held the seat for more than a decade. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates this race as "Likely Republican."

The ad has now been viewed nearly 1.9 million times on Youtube. You can check it out below.

Poll: Cruz leads O'Rourke by five points in TX-SEN

In the highly anticipated Senate race in Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is ahead of Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke by five points, a new poll from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune finds.

The poll released Monday found that 41 percent of Texans say they support Cruz, compared with 36 percent who are backing O’Rourke. Another two percent support Libertarian Neal Dikeman and 20 percent said they would either vote for someone else (3 percent) or said they have not thought about it yet (17 percent).

The race for Texas governor is not as close. In this survey, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott had 44 percent of the vote while his Democrat challenger, Lupe Valdez, had 32 percent.  

The University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll was conducted in June 2018  and has a margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points.

Pew poll: More voters than ever say they'll base midterm vote on party control of Congress

A record 68 percent of registered voters say that party control of Congress will be one of the top factors in their decision when they head to the polls in November, a new poll from the Pew Research Center finds.

What’s more, for 60 percent of voters, casting their ballot will serve explicitly as a referendum either for (26 percent) or against (34 percent) President Donald Trump. That’s also a record in the history of Pew’s polling.

The poll’s findings underscore the stakes for the 2018 midterms, as Trump faces down the first midterm cycle of his polarizing presidency.

With a tense political climate also comes record high enthusiasm from both Democratic and Republican voters with  51 percent of registered voters expressing increased interest in these elections; that is the highest it has been in at least 20 years. 

Unlike in some midterm cycles, in which one party records much higher enthusiasm ahead of the midterm contests, Republican voters’ enthusiasm is not far behind their Democratic counterparts. Fifty-five percent of those favoring Democratic control of Congress say they’re more enthusiastic than usual about the midterms than usual, versus 50 percent of those who favor a Republican-led Congress who say the same.

The Pew Research Center also found that voters want candidates to discuss immigration and health care, with 19 percent of registered voters stating immigration is a top priority for them.

The live-caller Pew survey was conducted June 5-12 and has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. 

Mark Murray

Dems get some good polling news in two key Senate races

Democrats on Wednesday received some good polling news for key 2018 Senate races, with their incumbents ahead in West Virginia and Wisconsin.

In West Virginia, a Monmouth poll shows Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., leading Republican Patrick Morissey among likely voters assuming a standard midterm turnout (50 percent to 43 percent), as well as assuming a Democratic surge (51 percent to 42 percent).

And in Wisconsin, a Marquette Law School poll has Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., ahead of GOP challengers Leah Vukmir (49 percent to 40 percent among registered voters) and Kevin Nicholson (50 percent to 39 percent).

For the August GOP primary, Nicholson gets 37 percent to Vukmir’s 32 percent.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who’s up for re-election in November, has a job rating of 49 percent approve, 47 percent disapprove.

Among the Democrats vying for the nomination to take Walker on, State Superintendent Tony Evers earned 25 percent with none of the other nine (yes, nine) gubernatorial candidate breaking single digits. A third of Democratic primary voters remain undecided. 

(The Monmouth poll was conducted June 14-19, and it has an overall margin of error at 3.8 percentage points. The Marquette Law poll was conducted June 13-17, and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 4.0 percentage points.) 

A look at TV ad spending in the nation's top GOV races

Yesterday, we took a look at the ad spending (TV, radio) in the top Senate contests.

And today, we took a look at the ad spending in some of the key gubernatorial races in the country. 

Check it out here:

Here are the four cities vying to host Democrats' 2020 convention

The Democratic National Committee has whittled down the list of cities it is considering to host the party's 2020 national convention to four cities, the DNC announced Wednesday. 

The finalists for the July 13-16 presidential nominating convention are: Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, and Miami Beach, Florida. 

Monday was the deadline for cities to submit proposals to the DNC, after which four cities on an earlier list were removed from consideration. Those removed included: New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Birmingham, Alabama. 

The decision process is expected to take months, with party officials beginning site visits later this summer and into the fall. Denver hosted Democrats' 2008 convention, when they officially nominated Barack Obama for the first time. 

Mark Murray

Dems outspending GOP in competitive Senate races (except Florida)

Less than five months until Election Day, Democrats are outspending Republicans over the TV and radio airwaves in the most competitive Senate contests, according to ad-spending data from Advertising Analytics.

The one exception, however, is in Florida, where Republicans and Rick Scott have outspent Democrats and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., by nearly a 5-to-1 ratio, $17.2 million to $3.1 million. (But that’s down from the GOP’s nearly 50-to-1 advantage a month ago.)

Here’s the ad-spending data as of June 18, 2018: 

Presented without comment: A dumpster fire in MN-SEN

Here at the NBC News political unit, we see a lot of campaign ads. 

So, we'll just .. present this one (from Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Richard Painter) without comment, because it's ... well, it's something. 

Carrie Dann

Monmouth poll: Dems +7 on generic ballot

A new poll from Monmouth University finds Democrats with a 7 point lead over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot, which is virtually unchanged from the poll's late April findings. 

The poll finds that 48 percent of registered voters prefer the Democratic candidate in their district, while 41 percent say they prefer the Republican.

The latest poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 50 percent of registered voters want Democrats to control Congress after the midterm elections, while 40 percent of voters chose Republicans. 

The Monmouth poll also found that approval of the president's signature tax reform bill is down since earlier this spring. Just 34 percent of covers say they approve of the plan, compared to 40 percent who said the same in April.